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Seasons of Recovery: How Granby’s Kate Sarnacki returned from an ACL tear and salvaged her senior year

  • Kate Sarnacki, of Granby, scores on a free position shot against Chicopee Comp on April 7, her first goal of her first game since her ACL surgery in September.

  • Kate Sarnacki puts an ACL brace on her knee prior to her team's game at Chicopee Comp on April 7, her first game since her surgery in September.

  • Kate Sarnacki, of Granby, cheers for her team during a basketball game against South Hadley that was part of the Spalding Hoophall Classic, January 13 at Springfield College. She is sitting beside her assistant coach, Fan Gaudette.

  • Kate Sarnacki, center, explains her desire to do more walking on her left leg to Katie Gillis, right, her physical therapist, during her appointment at Attain Therapy and Fitness in Belchertown, Oct. 28, four weeks after her ACL surgery. Gillis said that slow, steady progress is best and that overwork could cause swelling and delay the healing process. Kate's mother, Kim Sarnacki, left, listens.

  • Kate Sarnacki, right, and Maddie Sexton use hand gestures during a timeout to encourage teammate Nora Young to shoot more three-point shots against Easthampton, Feb. 20 at Easthampton High School.

  • Kate Sarnacki, right, walks with teammate Tristen Burger after Granby lost to Millbury in the state soccer semifinal at Westfield State University, Nov. 16, 2016.

  • Kate Sarnacki, left, gets some support from teammate Erin Mikalchus as the team gathers on the field for senior day Oct. 30, 2016 at Granby High School.

  • Kate Sarnacki exercises at Attain Therapy and Fitness in Belchertown, Nov. 17, 2016.

  • Kim Sarnacki, right, exercises under the supervision of Katie Gillis, at Attain Therapy and Fitness in Belchertown, Nov. 17, 2016.

  • Kate Sarnacki high fives teammates on the sidelines during a state soccer semifinal game Nov. 16, 2016 at Westfield State University.

  • Kate Sarnacki, center, celebrates soccer senior day with her parents, Mike and Kim Sarnacki, Oct. 30, 2016, at Granby High School. Kim is holding their dog, Bandit.

  • Kate Sarnacki, center, reacts as an electrical stimulator is employed by her physical therapist, Katie Gillis, at Attain Therapy and Fitness in Belchertown during her first appointment, Oct. 6. Kate's mother, Kim Sarnacki, looks on. Kate said the stimulation "didn't hurt, but it felt weird."

  • Kate Sarnacki gets help from classmates Hannah Roux, left, and Olivia Murray at Granby High School, Oct. 7. She moved to her next class early before other students filled the hallways.

  • Three days after her anterior cruciate ligament surgery, Kate Sarnacki gets help from her mother, Kim, as she gets into a continuous passive motion device at her home in Granby, Oct. 2, 2016.

Published: 5/17/2017 6:13:02 PM
Part 1: Granby’s Kate Sarnacki began ACL rehab with small, slow steps

Kate Sarnacki settled her feet against the resistance plate of a leg press machine. Her calves flexed against the weight, and she wiggled her toes in pink and baby blue sneakers before extending her legs on a rolling track.

Veins pulsed in her temples as she worked a piece of gum, keeping her motion in measured control.

“Can I go this slow, or can I go a little faster?” she asked.


Part 2: Kate Sarnacki spent Granby’s soccer and basketball seasons rehabbing her knee and supporting her teammates

Kate Sarnacki lay on an examination table at ATI Physical Therapy. The Granby senior was three weeks into physical therapy as part of a rehabilitation program after tearing multiple ligaments in her left knee.

Katie Gillis, her physical therapist, needed Kate to transition to lie on her stomach. Kate hopped off the table onto her right leg, keeping her injured left leg straight and off the ground, pivoted around the table and lay down on her stomach.

“You just made that so difficult,” Gillis said.


Part 3: After six months of rehab and a clearance scare, Granby’s Kate Sarnacki returns to the lacrosse field

Kate Sarnacki, bent over in Granby High School’s parking lot with her mouthguard dangling, adjusted the straps on her knee brace. Nearly six months after reconstructive surgery on her left knee, doctors had cleared her for most athletic movements except planting, cutting and twisting on her left leg. Those posed the greatest risk to reinjure her knee.


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